Today’s customer expects the personalization they receive in-store to be unified with their online shopping experience, and vice versa. For any retailer that counts customer loyalty among their goals, personalized marketing matters, and should be a top priority. Not convinced? Some statistics report a 20% increase in sales generated by personalized web experiences.
Here are 3 helpful hints for effectively harnessing the powers of online personalization:
1. Make the psychology of uniqueness your centrepiece
Shoppers want the things they buy to either tell a story that represents them, fit into the story of their life(style), be completely unique or customized to their preferences—or all of the above. With Marucci‘s on-site baseball bat customization tool, customers can tell their story by choosing their preferred material, colour, and design. Nike’s online custom running shoe builder is another great example of what Deloitte calls “the rise of mass personalization.” And if a customer is undecided online, retailers can use their inputted personal preferences as a means of re-engaging them later via advertising, email, or SMS. Give a customer a product, and they might be happy, but give them a story to tell, and they’ll come back to tell another.
Sites that offer customers personalized services via access to locally based associates are another great strategy for making customers feel unique. Being able to look at a product online and chat with a knowledgeable associate (AKA your own personal storyteller) means being able to learn its texture or quality, or get recommendations relevant to your purchase history, all from the comfort of your own home. Having an associate to chat with should feel like having a friend vet products in-store while feeding you information. Customers can see right through a bot unable to answer any question with the slightest bit of nuance or original thinking. There is no substitute for focused, friendly, human attention. The human touch is what sets retailers apart.
2. Don’t let your data go to waste
The biggest personalization challenges retailers face according to Experian is gaining insights fast enough, and having enough/accurate data. Creating an educational survey that leads consumers further down your funnel is a great way to collect information. You may be surprised how willing customers are to share data in exchange for reliable personalized experiences. Retailers should provide their associates with an automated tasking feature capable of gathering customer information both in-store and online. This is an invaluable way for associates to receive reminders to follow up. For example, if a given customer hasn’t purchased anything in 30 days, the associate will receive a notification, and any existing data can then be leveraged to make more effective personalized recommendations, offer relevant promotions, and cross-sell relevant products. This clienteling approach is at the heart of using data to drive personalization. Did you know 64% of millennials value “anticipation and customization of the experience” over privacy concerns?
Useful customer data has a shelf life. It’s important to review it frequently so its effectiveness can be experienced in real-time. Since data can be overwhelming, focus your efforts on data that can be acted upon, versus data that is simply interesting. DSW footwear launched a successful email campaign with their member data as the main event, essentially creating stories about their customers. By emailing their customers a detailed snapshot of their personal interactions with the brand over time (like purchases made, money saved, points needed to earn a particular savings certificate, etc.), they saw a 64% rise in email opens, a 13% rise in click-through rates, and a 58.82% rise in customers who read the email for 15+ seconds.
3. Use the right technology
E-commerce accounted for 11.7% of total retail sales in 2016, up 15.6% over 2015, and that trend continues. So now’s the time to get up close and personal with personalized experiences. Using omnichannel technology with location-based capabilities to send personalized offers straight to mobile handsets via chat, email, or SMS can go a long way toward making customers feel valued and associates feel effective. The growth of tools like Salesfloor address the challenges of personalization, allowing marketers to tailor digital experiences to customer journeys easily, access more accurate data points, and enable better recommendations. With the right tools, personalized customer experiences are accessible to all retailers and beneficial to all customers.
Future-proofing your personalization efforts means understanding your customers’ context, earning and maintaining their trust, and moving away from a transactional mentality to make customers’ personal preferences central to all you do. How effectively you communicate with customers, solve their issues, and get them to the cart directly affects engagement, conversion, and your bottom line.